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Formula Drift Finals - House Of Skid

Scene: Formula Drift Round 7: Final Fight

Matthew Jones
Jan 15, 2014
Photographer: SS Staff

Formula Drift brings its 10th season to a close with a sold out show for Round 7: Final Fight. With just over 20,000 attendees sardined into the Irwindale Speedway, the venue hosted one of its largest events in history as the Formula Drift series continues to grow and expand on its audience.

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We've seen a lot happen in Formula D over the past 10 years—but what we've never seen is a crowd this dense. The House of Drift was literally jam-packed for the homecoming show. Cruising through the vendor village was more of a struggle than a stroll due to the masses of people, and the Slammed Society show drew a crowd larger than we've ever seen. Even the designated media sections were completely stuffed to the gills and overflowing with neon yellow vests. Inside the ring, driver pits were so crowded that there even seemed to be a constant roar of chaos in the air upon entering the starting grid. It was a madhouse. But beneath it all, Irwindale was alive. The energy was extraordinary and the hype was on full blast. It was time to crown a new champion.

Entering the event, Michael Essa was initially sittin' pretty in First place as overall points leader until his motor blew in the top 32, leaving the championship in the hands of Chris Forsberg. Yet as Forsberg lost his trance in the Great Eight against former champion Daigo Saito, Michael Essa and his BMW M3 were crowned 2013 Formula Drift champion by default. Not exactly the way Essa wanted it to go down, but a win is a win and he will only be more prepared next season. The consolation round consisted of a great battle between Robbie Nishida and underdog Forrest Wang, where Wang was able to slide away with the first podium win of his career placing him in 3rd for the round. The final battle left veterans Daigo and McQuarrie fighting late into the night with Daigo coming out victoriously.

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With a European car being crowned champ for the first time in FD history, the possibilities are endless as the series continues to progress throughout our community. Keep an eye out for new teams, drivers and venues as the 2014 season is just around the corner.

It's been an exciting year in Formula Drift and we're only looking forward to what's to come. Here are a few of our favorite shots from throughout the season!

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Irwindale: Final Night

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In between the heated rounds, Essa kept close watch on when we’d finally hit a million followers on Instagram.
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Long Beach: Round 1

Kicking off their tenth year in typical FD fashion at the Streets of LB, a new knockout rule is brought into play, forcing drivers to go HAM from the get-go during qualifying instead of playing conservative, a move that enables them to secure a top 16 spot quicker, while the remaining spots are fought over. Dai Yoshihara takes the first win of ‘13 just over Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chris Forsberg.

Atlanta: Round 2

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Road Atlanta is easily one of FD’s most popular events outside of California with a challenging track configuration that not only satisfies drivers but the hordes of drift fans who come in to pack the stands. Rain threw a lot of drivers off their game that weekend, making for a completely unpredictable event—yet Daigo Saito in the Achilles SC 430 would beat out Darren McNamara and Vaughn Gittin Jr.
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Palm Beach: Round 3

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The rain gods were ultra kind for the South Florida event, but that wouldn’t save the best drivers from being knocked out early during qualifying. Michael Essa took his first podium/First place finish this round against a tough Daigo Saito, and Robbie Nishida clinched Third, also a first time podium finish in his drifting career.
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New Jersey: Round 4

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Wall Stadium Speedway usually runs in a compressed figure eight with a center crossover, but FD switched it up for the first time in nine years, making it a two-lap, five-turn layout, allowing for more solid transitions between turns. However, this would still prove fatal for many competitors, sending a good handful into the first banked “wall of death.” Daigo Saito took First with JTP (Justin Pawlak) and Chris Forsberg in Second and Third, respectfully.
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Seattle: Round 5

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What almost seemed like would be a second championship season for Daigo Saito by Seattle would drastically change here. He not only crashed during qualifying but also didn’t advance past the Top 32, leaving the overall lead for points up to Forsberg and Essa. Forsberg would beat Essa in the finals, taking him to First from Fourth place, and taking Essa to Second overall.
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Texas: Round 6

The tenth season was amped up with an additional round and an entirely new venue—The Texas Motor Speedway. Hot as hell and flat as a pancake, the new course featured a wide-open, 3-turn layout where drivers were forced to enter turn 1 at speeds as high as 108mph. The final battle pitted Michael Essa against Matt Field, and Essa was able to slide away with the win, securing his spot as overall points leader. Field finished in Second for his very first podium finish of his career and Forsberg took Mordaunt in the consolation round for Third.

By Matthew Jones
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